NORTHFIELD VILLAGE — Village Council has voted to ban medical marijuana cultivators, processors and retail dispensaries from locating in the village.

In a close vote at their Nov. 8 meeting, Council members voted 3-2 in favor of an ordinance that would prohibit such businesses from taking roots here.

Voting "yes" were Keith Czerr, Renell Noack and Nicholas Magistrelli. Voting "no" were Alan Hipps and Jennifer Domzalski, while Gary Vojtush was absent.

Because a couple of individuals were interested in seeking permits to open dispensaries in the village, Law Director Brad Bryan drafted the ordinance to ban them.

Mayor Jesse Nehez explained he has always been in favor of banning medical marijuana, but he called it "a very controversial issue."

"I am not against medical marijuana being used to treat certain conditions, but it is still not federally regulated.

"My belief is that if medical marijuana is considered a drug, then why not allow it to be sold at any drug store in the country? If there would be federal guidelines to regulate it, I’d be fine with it."

The ban was first discussed at Council’s Oct. 25, when a couple of members said they’ve heard from a number of residents who support the ban, while Councilman Alan Hipps said he hasn’t heard much opposition to allowing dispensaries to operate here.

An attorney for the Hard Rock Rocksino also spoke in favor of the ban at that meeting after sending a letter from Hard Rock owners that they also support a ban.

Attorney Kenneth Fisher said his client "vigorously objects" to allowing medical marijuana dispensaries, claiming they would be detrimental to the Rocksino and village.

Fisher said by stating its support of the ban, the Rocksino is trying to protect its investment and is looking out for the good of the village.

Dispensaries are allowed under Ohio Revised Code Section 3796.29 in response to Ohio House Bill 523, which provides for the legalization and regulation of medical marijuana in Ohio.

The section also allows local officials to pass ordinances to prohibit cultivators, processors and dispensaries. The village’s ordinance states doing so is "necessary for the public peace, health and welfare of the residents."

Bryan said three licenses for dispensaries are available in Summit County. Nov. 14 was the deadline to apply for them, and a decision by state officials on who gets the licenses is likely to be made in March 2018.

klahmers@recordpub.com

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